We know how important farming is to our state and how important the Farm Bill is for the one-in-seven Ohioans who depend on agriculture for their jobs, and for all Ohioans who need to buy groceries every week.
Since I came to the Senate, I’ve served on the Agriculture Committee and I’m proud to be the first Ohioan on it in 50 years.
Writing a Farm Bill every five years is one of the most important things we do as a committee and it’s something we always do in a bipartisan way. Back in 2018, the Farm Bill passed 87-13.
Ohio farmers are some of the most productive in the world. Yet when you go to most grocery stores in Ohio, you don’t find apples from Geauga County or beef raised in Lorain County – you see apples from Washington, and ground beef that might be from Texas or Nebraska or Brazil.
We know food prices are a big issue for Ohioans right now. Everyone sees the problems with inflation, particularly at the grocery store. One of the big causes of these rising prices has been supply chains that are too long and too fragile. Building more robust local and regional food systems will help bring those supply chains home to Ohio.
Leading up to every Farm Bill, we hold roundtables all around the state to learn the priorities that Ohio farmers have. Over the past few weeks, I’ve talked with farmers in Wooster and Chesterland, and Food Bank volunteers who help to keep food on families’ tables.
At every event, I heard a similar message: Ohio farmers want to find new markets for their products. But they have trouble competing with Big Ag and connecting with Ohio families who want to buy fresh, locally-grown food. That’s something we’ve been working to change, and it’s going to be a big focus in the next Farm Bill.
I’ve worked for years to push for more local and regional food production, with legislation like the Local FARMS Act.
We need to build on that and make it easier for farmers to feed their communities and for consumers to buy local Ohio food and farm products. That keeps money where it belongs: here in our communities.
When we invest in Ohio farmers, we help create jobs and opportunity in the all the places that are too often overlooked in Washington – whether it’s rural towns or urban neighborhoods.
Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) represents the state in the U.S. Senate.